NEWTON, MA | September 7, 2005
What do principals need to know about the teaching and learning in their schools? How do a principal’s own knowledge and beliefs shape the way his or her school is run? How do principals view themselves as on-the-job learners? A new book by researcher Barbara Scott Nelson of Education Development Center (EDC),and Annette Sassi of Education Matters provides detailed portraits of administrators at work, illuminating the key decision-making situations they face and the actions they choose to take.
Using mathematics instruction as a focus, the 224-page book, The Effective Principal: Instructional Leadership for High Quality Learning, draws on an in-depth study of elementary school principals and uses their own voices and personal accounts to explore how their knowledge and ideas shape their perceptions of the work they do. The book also:
- Looks at a new image of the school principal, one tied more closely to teaching and learning
- Discusses what instructional leaders need to know about subject matter in order to discharge their responsibilities effectively in the current climate of standards and accountability
- Examines how principals work with teachers, and how they perceive their roles within the broader organizational and political context
- Offers critical implications for mathematics education, educational policy, and school improvement
“After working with more than 200 principals over a period of ten years, what we found was fascinating because principals are so varied in terms of their working conditions and working styles, but in spite of this variability, what they know about school subjects and believe about teaching and learning dramatically affects the decisions they make and the actions they take,” said Nelson, senior scientist and director of EDC’s Center for the Development of Teaching. “Principals are key to instructional quality and it is important to understand their work and how to support it,” Nelson said.